Home of geothermal spas, beautiful & unique landscapes, skyr, Jökulsárlón, and much more, Iceland is a magical place and one of my absolute favourite countries. And just recently I learned about one of their Christmas traditions that made me fall in love with this Nordic nation even more.
In Iceland the majority of books [up to 80 percent!] are released and purchased during the months leading up to the holidays, a tradition that is called Jólabókaflóð—the “Christmas Book Flood.”
At the beginning of the flood, Bókatíðindi arrives in every Icelander’s mailbox; this catalogue lists all of the new publications for the year. Folks peruse the catalogue, deciding what they are going to buy as gifts and what they themselves would enjoy receiving, as books are wildly popular Christmas presents in Iceland. Not only that, but after exchanging gifts on Christmas Eve, quite often people will then spend the rest of the evening reading their new books and eating chocolate.
You know the emoji with hearts for eyes? That’s me when I think about books [okay, I’ll admit… AND chocolate], so this is definitely a Christmas tradition I would enjoy!
During the holiday season when so many of us are surrounded by family, it’s good to remember that not everyone is so lucky. Two years ago eight-year-old Sa’fyre was the sole survivor in an arson attack that killed the rest of her immediate family. Since surviving the fire, she has undergone countless surgeries, but—according to this Redbook article—Sa’fyre’s aunt says “She is the bravest, most courageous little girl you will ever meet. She is funny and witty, sweet and caring, and super strong… She wakes every morning with a smile on her face. She is the true definition of hope, faith and love.” It’s so inspiring that Sa’fyre has stayed so positive, despite everything that she’s been through!
Now we all have the chance to do something that will only take a moment, but will make Sa’fyre’s Christmas a little merrier. She would love to receive holiday cards from folks all around the world, and if this video is any indication, Sa’fyre has already received quite a number of cards!
But I think we can all help Sa’fyre’s pile of cards grow! Pop over to the store to pick up a card or dig through your stash of extra Christmas cards [I’m not the only one with a card stash, right?] and send a card to Sa’fyre today to help her have a very merry Christmas:
My beloved Gävlebocken is back! The 13 meter tall Christmas goat has been erected once again this year in Gävle, Sweden. Make sure to follow him on Twitter or Instagram, or read his blog for a dose of julstämning. And if you’re a serious Gävlebocken fan like me, you might also like to check out the live feed on his webcam!
Since we elves enjoy making things at work and in our spare time, we love creative projects from other folks as well—be it new products, joyful music, or delicious food. So, it’s time once again this year to highlight some fabulous festive projects that are currently seeking funding on Kickstarter, a website whose mission is “to help bring creative projects to life.”
If you have an artificial Christmas tree, but can’t stand the green pole at the base, then the Christmas Tree Hugger is for you! The flexible hugger wraps around the pole and features a classic brown bark, white birch bark, or candy cane design.
Permanent and weather-resistant, you can easily install EverLights once and then enjoy them for years to come. Plus, you can customize the colours and sequence of the lights using the included smartphone app. After the Christmas season, you can change the lights’ colours to celebrate other holidays or even to match the colours of your favourite sports team!
Learn more about the EverLights Kickstarter campaign here.
These hand-printed tree posters are perfect if you live in a small space and don’t have room for a Christmas tree. Simply hang the poster on the wall and decorate with stickers, markers, or paper ornaments!
This Friday REI, the outdoor recreation and sporting goods retailer, is doing something rather extraordinary. Instead of participating in Black Friday, they are closing all of their stores and paying their 12,000+ employees to spend time outside, and they are inviting everyone else to join them. While some folks probably can’t imagine a store not being open on the biggest shopping day of the year, this campaign [appropriately called #OptOutside] fits quite well with REI’s belief that “a life outside is a life well-lived,” and I can definitely appreciate them practicing what they preach!
In the midst of holiday busyness, taking some time to go explore the great outdoors sounds like a fantastic idea. All of us could benefit from pausing and enjoying the beauty of nature—whether it’s a snowy mountain, scenic state park, metropolitan botanical garden, or your favourite campground.
Some parks in the USA are even offering special discounts and events to help encourage people to #OptOutside this Friday. Here are just a few of the participating park systems:
For a list of additional park systems, organizations, and companies that have partnered with REI on this campaign, please visit REI’s website. Or, go here to find places to have fun skiing, hiking, cycling, or paddling. You can also check out the hashtag #OptOutside on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram to see how others are spending their Friday out in the fresh air!
Personally, I plan to #OptOutside on Black Friday by exploring a marsh and a beach with my fiancé and my dog. How will you be spending the day? Will you be fighting the crowds at the mall? Hiking with your children at a state park? Sleeping in late and then putting up your Christmas tree? Going for a run around a lake? Let us know in the comments!